I reinstalled windows, paying closer attention this time to what happens. During the initial phase, copying files, I got a couple of routine messages about non FAT32 partitions that I wouldn't be able to access later, and continued on. On the first reboot, of course it crashed, but after making the entry in system.ini, installation continued. I got the message, "Windows did not detect any real mode PC card drivers", and asking me if I wanted to search my system files for real mode drivers, to which I answered, "no". Finally, the desktop appeared. I immediately searched the registry for "NOIDE" but didn't find it. Then I checked Device Manager and found only 3 entries under "Computer", all with yellow marks. Checking properties for them returned these results:
keyboard-- "Windows can't specify the resources for this device"
Ports(Com and LPT)--Windows can't specify the resources for this device"
Mouse-- "This device is causing a resource conflict"
I tried rebooting and surprisingly, got back to the desktop. This time, the yellow marks were gone from the original 3 entries in Device Manager, and there were several new entries, all with red checks. Properties didn't show any problems. Another attempted reboot ended in failure, so I tried step by step confirmation boot, which led to windows opening with no error messages, but the red-checked entries in Device manager were all missing and the original 3 had their yellow marks back. Again, 1 or 2 successful reboots, failure. Thinking I would give up for the day, I put the computer back on the docking station, then decided to try it that way, booting again by using the step by step method (which I'm apparently able to use at any time). Windows immediately started looking for device drivers for the docking station itself and for the peripherals attached to it, such as keyboard and external monitor. The external monitor didn't work but the sea-green of the laptop desktop suddenly changed to the deep blue Win 98 screen. Device Manager still showed only the original 3 entries. Upon rebooting, the screen was back to sea-green, there were no more attempts by Windows to load device drivers, and still the 3 entries. But then I found that I was able to successfully re-start 6 or 8 times! I pushed my luck by shutting down completely and trying to restart, but it was back to square one. No go. All in all, it's just kind of chaotic situation.
A lot of Googling has conviced me that the SATA problem is no doub critical. An obvious solution would be to change my BIOS setting from ACHI to ATA, the only option available, but I don't want to do that for fear of trashing the other OS installations on my multi-boot system. In the final analysis, even If I could get Windows to open reliably, I don't think it would work for what I need. I didn't check for sound, but there was none when the desktop opened and I didn't see a sound card in Device Manager. Pretty hard to use my midi sequencer program without sound, and there's little hope of finding a driver. I didn't think drivers would be much of a problem, but they obviously are. Dell will be of no help since, by policy, they refuse to support any OS older or newer than the OEM version. I might try Win ME(nothing to lose), which is actually newer than Win 2k. I might try installing Win 98 on my old Dell Inspiron 5000, which is currently running XP ok in spite of an apparently failing, soldered-on CMOS battery (judging by the fact that it won't hold it's BIOS settings). I might try VirtualBox in one of my Win 7 partitions. Win 98 sort of runs in MS Virtual PC on Win 7, even though it's not officially supported, but very, very poorly. (It's not officially supported in VirtualBox, either, but some people claim that it works fine.)